Local homeless advocate has big criticism about building tiny homes for Huntsville’s homeless population

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Volunteers in Huntsville are fast-tracking an idea to build tiny homes for local homeless people.

The group plans  to be at the Huntsville City Council meeting Thursday night to discuss the project.

But one man vehemently opposed to the project plans to be there, too.

Clete Wetli is the Executive Director for First Stop Day Center for the homeless and believes building these homes could create a dangerous environment.

Wetli points to new tables at the center for the homeless as construction projects  that make him proud, and help homeless people.  That's because homeless people built the tables and painted them for the center.

"Homelessness is a people problem, not a problem about lack of roofs," said Wetli.  "It's about helping people become empowered and transitioning their lives."

Wetli is critical of a project to build 30 tiny homes to be given to homeless people.

"A lot of the homeless population are not capable of living without case management," said Wetli.  "They don't have transportation, they don't have jobs, so are we going to warehouse people into basically a project?"

Wetli says those behind the project overlooked many issues, including building and zoning codes.

"We just think there's a lot of questions that need to be addressed.  Questions of security, questions of insurance and liability," he explained.

The volunteers building the tiny homes say they would not have heat or running water.  Wetli favors a more self-sustaining project.

"A factory where there's case managers, substance abuse counselors, people like that on site working with them, have them build furniture, new products," he said.  "Now, all of a sudden, wow, you've created 200 jobs and you hired people that no one else will."

Wetli plans to be at the council meeting to hear the discussion.

Those behind the tiny homes project plan to have a demo home parked outside Huntsville City Hall.

10 comments

  • Nuclear Mike

    I repeat my previous comment>>>
    Does anyone really believe the occupants will ever perform maintenance on these “tiny homes”???
    These homes are better than a nylon tent for sure, but everything that went on before in the tents will happen in these homes. If these homes are not fireproof then expect the opportunity for carbon monoxide poisoning in such small air tight quarters…as good judgment cannot be build into these homes for the occupants.

    Good intentions are great, but without constant management by authority on a daily basis this will just become a squatters’ camp like the Great Depression ripe with all the already known bad habits & hygiene as before.
    No one can change the personalities & mental health of those expected to actually live there for very long.

    • Nuclear Mike

      and to repeat my other comment>>>
      Most all of these homeless require constant professional mental health attention/care, and if there is to be no free clinic staffed by professionals available to them, then this tiny home village experiment will be just that…another experiment that will temporarily “look good” without the 100% commitment of the State of Alabama to provide such health services.

  • Skillpot

    Homeless for “12-years?” A “veteran?”

    What about the help toward rehabilitation; JUST TO GET OF THE SEAT, ONTO THE FEET, AND MOVE FORWARD?

  • Johnny Rychuss

    Another homeless hate crime. My dad is a homeless 60 year old veteran with cancer. And this person doesn’t want him to have a house ? He needs a kick between the legs. My dad never used drugs and is not an alcoholic. He doesn’t need care nor do most homeless people. Your wrong Mike and your stupid. Just because people don’t have money does not mean your better than them. Most are just victims to circumstances created by Bentley and Obama. Before 2008 my dad had a nice home and we celebrated every holiday. Since 2008 I haven’t had a birthday, Christmas, Or Thanksgiving. Blame the politicians not the homeless. Anyone who refuses to help the needy is evil.

    • Lotus

      There are a lot of really good comments here. I tend to side with Mr. Wetli regarding the small houses being built. My 21 year old son was homeless for 8 months in Nashville, all through this past winter. He literally slept in a cardboard box behind a church. He could have stayed at the Rescue Mission but he chose not to. He couldn’t get high there. Based on what he’s told me about his experience, 95% of homeless people need serious help with their addictions. I’m talking about the homeless population in Nashville, which is very close to here. Our homeless need a structured program that will help them be drug free and assist them with getting back on their feet and supporting themselves in society. I don’t think that providing our homeless with a tiny house, with a tiny roof and no heat, is going to help solve the problem long term. There’s a whole lot more to it than that. It’s a very sad, complicated issue.

  • truthliveshere

    Mr. Wetli also said in an article on this website that he thought history would show that Obama has been one of our best presidents. He is a liberal who thinks he knows what is best for everyone.

  • Valorie Vickrey

    Not all of the homeless have mental health issues or are on drugs but some are. I think the tiny houses could be a good idea but why not go ahead and put plumbing and heat in them? Why not do screening and make it part of a program that includes getting their social security,VA benefits or a job and help people get back on their feet. I have worked with some of the people in that area and there are some good people that have just had some tough circumstances.

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